‘Heartbreaking’: Masai giraffe calf dies shortly after birth at the Sacramento Zoo

The Sacramento Zoo on Tuesday announced that one of its Masai giraffe gave birth to a calf, which died shortly after.

Amirah, a first-time mother, had a routine and successful gestation and delivery Monday, but the calf died. Zoo officials said Amirah is healthy and continuing to do well under the observation of animal care and veterinary staff, and that she will be back with the rest of the giraffe herd soon.

Veterinary staff from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, along with members of the zoo’s giraffe care team, were there throughout the birth to observe and assist, zoo officials said.

Melissa McCartney, senior manager of Animal Care and Veterinary Health Services at the zoo, said she is proud of the staff’s commitment in caring for the animals at the zoo.

“While the loss of any animal is heartbreaking to our zoo family, we are grateful for the support of our community as we continue the important work of protecting wild giraffes and providing exceptional care to the giraffe herd at the Sacramento Zoo,” McCartney said in a news release. “On behalf of the Zoo’s animal care and vet teams, we are appreciative of everyone’s compassion as we process this loss.”

The zoo is currently home to three other female Masai giraffes, including two young giraffes born in 2020 and 2023. There also is one male Masai giraffe and one female reticulated giraffe.

The Sacramento Zoo is one of 34 institutions managing 138 total Masai giraffes nationwide in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums population. It also partners with and supports the Wild Nature Institute, a field research organization studying Masai giraffe demographics and the African Savanna ecosystem. This partnership is critical to giraffe research and conservation efforts in Africa.